Yesterday a guest on our property asked me what kind of writing I do. We chatted a bit about what I’ve written and what I hope to write. At the end of our conversation I said, “What I really like to do is tell people’s stories.”
There are key points along each of our lives: challenges, successes and failures, and so many things that come together to make our stories what they are. And for me, Purdon Groves is one of those building blocks. But before Purdon Groves, there were many other experiences that were pivotal. They helped create my story.
Many of those occurred during childhood. One of the first big events for me was living in France as a baby with my parents. Learning English and French at the same time triggered a propensity for languages in my brain. Later, in junior high and high school, my mom nudged me toward competing in public speaking contests. This experience gave me the confidence to talk in front of large rooms of people. Then, as an eighth grader, I was elected to the Student Council. As a result, I began to try new things that were REALLY outside my comfort zone - like cheerleading. Choosing to be a foreign exchange student in Sweden when I was 16 was something I probably wouldn’t have done if my mom hadn’t encouraged me. However, it showed me that I could do things that are tough (like leaving my family and friends for a year) and the resulting maturity, wisdom and friendships would make it worth the effort.
As I became an adult, new experiences built on those of my childhood. Marrying and having children has been hands down the biggest milestone of my life. Through the highs and lows, I’ve learned, and continue to learn, from my husband, as well as my four adult kids and their spouses. After my children were born, I began to try my hand at writing for pay. It’s something I wasn’t specifically trained to do, but as a young mom I worked hard at it and eventually got published in a parenting magazine. That first acceptance, after rejections, helped me to not be so afraid of trying something new.
All of these experiences have helped mold me into who I am. And now the farm is doing its part, playing its role in writing my story.
For me there are many days, especially in the summer, where my attitude has been, just get done what has to be done and then go home. Pouring everything we have - mentally, emotionally, physically and financially - into the running of the farm is something I honestly never dreamed I’d be doing. But here I am, alongside my husband and daughter, trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
The result is greater physical stamina than I’ve had in years, mental space to overcome hurdles and a sense that I am home. I’m not sure how or when it happened. I think it’s actually been a subtle occurrence over time. But yesterday evening, in the midst of a rain shower, as I walked through standing water, I looked down at my rubber work boots and realized that even in the rain, there’s no place I’d rather be.
Sherry Asbury Clark is Co-Founder of Purdon Groves and a freelance writer. Her column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, appears each week in the Corsicana Daily Sun. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Purdon Groves, a farm, table, venue and retreat property, check out purdongroves.com or visit their Instagram or Facebook pages.